Does access to saltwater swimming pools reduce ear pathology and hearing loss in school children of remote arid zone aboriginal communities? A prospective 3-year cohort study

Linnett Sanchez, Andrew Simon Carney, Adrian Esterman, Karen Sparrow, David Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Objective: To assess whether access to saltwater chlorinated swimming pools in remote Aboriginal communities is beneficial in reducing levels of middle ear disease and hearing loss in school children. Design: A prospective 3-year cohort study of children in 10 remote Aboriginal communities in South Australia with (n = 4) or without (n = 6) swimming pools. Setting: Outback Australia. Participants: Eight hundred and thirteen school-age children residing in remote South Australia. Main outcome measures: Prevalence of open and closed middle ear disease and prevalence of hearing loss. Results: About 2107 ear assessments were conducted during the study period. 70.7% of children in communities with pools failed a screening test of hearing compared with 68.6% of children in non-pool communities (P = 0.637). 32.3% of children had chronic otitis media (COM). There was no difference between pool and non-pool communities in the frequency of either inactive (19.4% pool vs 22.6% non-pool; P = 0.232) or active (19.8% pool vs 17.8% non-pool; P = 0.383) COM. In children with bilateral intact tympanic membranes, 21.2% had unilateral and 20.6 had bilateral type B tympanograms. There was no difference between pool and non-pool communities in the frequency of type B tympanometry (P = 0.465). Conclusions: Hearing loss associated with both open and closed middle ear disease remains highly prevalent in children living in remote Aboriginal communities in South Australia. Access to swimming pools in this population does not appear to significantly reduce these high levels of middle ear disease or associated hearing loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)736-742
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Otolaryngology
Volume44
Issue number5
Early online date29 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

Keywords

  • acoustic impedance tests
  • audiology
  • oceanic ancestry group
  • otitis media
  • otitis media with effusion
  • otoscopy
  • speech-language pathology
  • suppurative

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